Trade shows are a great way to build awareness about your brand and to connect with potential clients and collaborators. Some of your best and most long-lasting relationships can take root at trade shows.

However, it can be time-consuming to plan for a trade shows and exhausting on the day. Organising all the different elements of the day can therefore be overwhelming, with many different administrative tasks to perform and all the gear to get ready for the trip.

This can be particularly daunting for owners of startups, who don’t have specialised staff to do the organisation for them.

In this article we simplify it all for you, picking out the 10 top tips to help startup business owners make the most of a tradeshow.

Using trade shows to promote a product

1. Check who’s coming to the event

A great way to hit the ground running, is to plan ahead and check who’s attending on the tradeshow website. Make a list of the people who you think might be most important.

Send them a quick email, letting them know that you’re attending and that you’re interested in what they do.

Once the day arrives, they will actively seek out your stand, ensuring that you don’t miss the opportunity to develop an important contact.

2. Hand-Pick your team

Think carefully about who you are going to take with you to the trade show.

Choose amicable, dynamic members of your team who aren’t afraid to approach potential clients on the day. Also take someone who is super-knowledgeable about your market.

They may not always be the most outgoing employee, but they’ll be a great source of knowledge if there are any specialised questions to answer.

3. Research your Qs and As

People who approach your stand are likely to have lots of questions. Some questions are the obvious ones; the ones you might expect them to ask. However, they might also ask you more unexpected questions.

It’s a good idea to have a sit-down with your staff before you leave for the trade show and have a chat about their area of the business.

Find out which questions they might expect to come up and make a list. If you get questions from 3-5 people from across your company, you will cover a lot of ground. And you’ll feel better-prepared on the day.

4. Prepare Product Demos

Sometimes the best way to get your message across is to stop talking and show attendees how it works. Prepare a product demo.

Rehearse it a few times with colleagues so you can provide a seamless presentation, on cue.

contrasting colour scheme

5. Provide a Lounge Space in Your Booth

Trade shows can often be tiring for attendees. Walking from booth to booth and chatting all day can be pretty relentless.

This makes trade show booths with a nice lounge area for sitting down, particularly appealing. Bring some seating and a table and create a nice, relaxed vibe in your booth.

It’ll make you stand out and give attendees the chance to stop and really appreciate what you have to offer.

6. Bring plenty of Brochures and Business Cards

It seems like common sense, but make sure to print more brochures and business cards than you might expect to need.

We almost always underestimate how many we are going to give away during the event.

You may not seal the deal on the day, but by adding a little discount or personal information to the back of the card, you’ll lay the roots to a fruitful future relationship.

7. Create a Super-Visual Booth

To stand out against all the other booths competing for attention, use big bold imagery and text on your display. Small, detailed text is going to get drowned out.

So focus on pictures, stick to the key message and blast it out with simple phrases in colourful fonts. You also need to think about how your different displays are going to work together.

Use different types of displays to capture the attention of attendees at different levels. Wide banners high-up and at mid-level, and then tall, rectangular poster stands at ground-level.

8. Organise your leads in real-time

During the trade show, it’s important to gather as many business cards and contact details as you can. This can mean that at the end of the event, you have stacks of business cards and leads to sort through.

To save yourself time and energy remembering who-is-who afterwards, start listing, sorting and prioritising contacts during the event.

Take a tablet with you, open up an excel sheet and start listing contacts as you go.

Set them in order of priority by labelling them on the spreadsheet. Then you’re ready to start following up with your most important leads immediately after the event.

9. The Follow-Up

Make sure to take notes about individuals you meet on the day.

When you follow up leads after the event, you can mention something about your personal encounter in the email.

This will trigger the memory of the prospective client and create an immediate connection.

Graph to show how exhibitors follow up their trade show leads

10. Leverage your social media

Social media is a very powerful tool for connecting with potential clients and collaborators. While the event is ongoing, add the people you meet on linkedin, twitter, instagram or facebook, so you can follow-up through their preferred channel.

Social media is also incredibly useful for marketing your products and services. Take the opportunity to make posts about the event, take pictures of your stand and share them online. These will further your reach beyond the trade show.

Good Luck with your Show!

Trade shows can be daunting to prepare for. However, they can also be fun and inspiring for your business.

Prepare in the right way by following these 10 tips and the trade show will be an energy-giver rather than an energy-sapper, propelling your business forwards!

If you require an exhibition stand for your startup such as a roller banner or pop up display with expert graphic design assistance when needed, please get in touch with Display Wizard.